Having open and ongoing conversations with our kids is an essential part of developing digital wellbeing. Online safety should be an important part of that conversation, but we need to broaden our conversations to include all parts of digital wellbeing, not just safety. This includes having conversations about how we can use technology to enrich our lives and make our communities better. It includes talking about using technology to build healthy relationships with friends and family, as well as being able to quickly find the right sources of information to learn new things and make good decisions. It's about balancing our online and offline activities appropriately.
The Digital Citizenship Coalition has identified five competencies of healthy digital citizens that we should teach in our homes and schools. The competencies focus on helping our kids learn to be balanced, informed, inclusive, engaged and alert in their technology use. When thinking about your family's digital culture, it is important that kids are involved in the conversation and have a chance to reflect on their own digital experiences. Talk about why it is important to practice attributes of being an effective digital citizen. Help them see the difference that they can make in their life and the lives of others based on their behaviours in the virtual world.
Changing a family's technology culture doesn't happen in a single talk, but through ongoing conversations. To help get you started, here are some conversation starters, aligned to the five digital citizenship competencies, to help start your own conversations;
- What are some things that make it harder for you to stop using certain apps?
- Are there times when a particular digital activity keeps you from doing other things that are more important?
- How do you know when it's time to take a break from using technology?
- When are the times in our day that should be device-free?
- How do you decide which apps or digital activities deserve your time?
- What is something new that you've learnt online recently?
- Where are your favourite places to go online when you want to learn something new?
- What are the dangers of not recognising when information that we find online is misleading or inaccurate?
- How might you respond when someone shares information that appears to be incorrect?
- What should you do if you share something and then find out that it wasn't true?
- Have you ever regretted something that you've written or said online?
- Have you ever seen someone who you respect do or say something online that disappointed you?
- Do you think it's easier to be unkind to someone online or in person?
- Can you think of something you've learnt from someone who disagreed with you?
- Have you ever felt excluded or rejected online?
- Have you ever found an opportunity to help another person online?
- If you could solve one problem at your school, what would it be?
- How could you use technology to help you solve that problem?
- If you could invent a new app that would make the world better, what would it do?
- How can you use technology to help capture family memories and stories?
- What do you do when you see someone being mean to someone else online?
- What are some warning signs that a website or app might be unsafe?
- What would you do if you felt uncomfortable with something that someone was asking you to do online?
- Who would you feel comfortable talking to if you felt worried about something that happened online?
- What are some things that we should do as a family to stay safe online?